Today, the Associated Press is reporting that the same police chief, Matthew Nestor, who has been charged with obstruction of justice in association with the deadly beating of Luís Ramírez — an undocumented immigrant — was also named in a 2006 lawsuit which alleged that Borough police beat to death a Latino inmate and hung him from the bars of his cell to make it seem like a suicide. The lawsuit also claimed that Nestor arrested the inmate without warrant or probable cause.
Earlier this year, an all-white jury in Pennsylvania coal country acquitted two teenagers — Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak — of murder, assault, and ethnic intimidation charges in relation to the fatal beating of Ramírez. Prosecutors, family members, and advocates were baffled by the verdict, especially considering the “horrific details of the crime, damning evidence, and a number of serious criminal charges.” The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund called on the Justice Department to “bring justice to the Ramirez family and send a strong message that violence targeting immigrants will not be tolerated.” A petition calling for federal charges received 50,000 signatures.
As a result, Piekarsky and Donchak have both been recently indicted on federal hate crime charges. Nestor and two of his officers, Lt. William Moyer and Officer Jason Hayes, were also charged with obstruction of justice. According to the indictment, the three policemen failed to “memorialize or record” statements made by Piekarsky and “wrote false and misleading official reports” that “intentionally omitted information about the true nature of the assault and the investigation.” They face up to 20 years in prison and the teenagers could be in jail for life if found guilty.
At the time of Ramírez’s death, Hayes was dating Piekarsky’s mother and Moyer’s son played on the high school football team with one of the teenage defendants. The officers have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting a bail hearing.